Apple’s 5G-capable iPhone release could be the latest event delayed due to the Coronavirus outbreak,Yahoo Finance reports. The combination of the virus disrupting global markets, China’s supply chains being impacted and millions of people being out of work make Apple’s annual smartphone event in September less likely. There’s a 10 to 15 percent chance Apple will release the 5G iPhone in September, according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.
“See I think, they get one shot at this,” he told Yahoo Finance. “If they release a 5G phone with supply chain issues, into a tepid response from a consumer environment, where they are still focused on their jobs, groceries, and just more of a lockdown-type state, that would be, in our opinion, a disastrous environment to launch a phone into.”
Timing is everything for Apple’s 5G iPhone launch
The 5G iPhone is Apple’s most important to date, according to Ives—approximately 350 million of Apple’s install base of 925 million iPhones around the globe are due for an upgrade. The company also sees the launch as a significant sales opportunity because this is its first 5G device. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the health crisis—temporary hospitals could still be set up in major cities worldwide in September. Millions could still be unemployed at that time too—launching a phone under those circumstances could be a public relations disaster.
“To launch it into an environment like that, I think that would go against the typical D.N.A. of Tim Cook and Cupertino,” Ives told Yahoo Finance. “They are very highly emotionally intelligent people. And I think the last thing they are going to do is kind of rush this.”
The Nikkei Asian Review also reported that Apple has talked about holding off on the 5G iPhone launch because of the supply chain constraints that lockdowns in different countries have caused. Apple personnel are also concerned about what customer demand would look like if the phone is released in this current environment, according to the article.
A delay wouldn’t necessarily be bad for Apple
Holding off on its 5G iPhone would not be the worst thing in the world for Apple, according to Ives. The company could still post strong sales numbers if it launched the phone during the holidays—even if a delayed launch would take three months off of its typical iPhone sales cycle.
“There should be some pent-up demand as the coronavirus fades and customers are able to get to the stores,” Bank of America analyst Wamsi Mohan told Yahoo Finance.
The good news for Apple is iPhones that debuted in September only made up a small amount of devices sold during the third quarter, according to Yahoo Finance. Most of the company’s sales come during the following quarter around holiday time. So customers may have to wait a few months to get their hands on a 5G iPhone, but there will be plenty of people at the stores to get one once they are available.